How does the film industry help small Latino businesses?

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Film and television productions in Los Angeles have been the key source of revenue for Latino-owned small businesses for more than a century.

Not only is this industry at the heart of the state’s cultural identity, it is one of California’s largest and most vital economic engines.

Recent tax incentive policies have helped provide opportunities for new small business owners to work in the industry.

As a result, 130,000 direct jobs have been created. As we recover from the pandemic, I urge the state legislature to continue to provide critical tax incentives that would support existing mom-and-pop stores and open the doors for new small business owners to achieve the American Dream, like me.

I grew up in Mexico and came to California when I was 18 years old. I found work where I could, including washing dishes for a catering company that served film and television productions. I was lucky enough to be able to work my way up, save up, and open Orlando’s Motion Picture Catering in 2016, a Sun Valley-based catering company that works exclusively with the film and television industry.

California’s entertainment industry is powered by an entire ecosystem of local businesses. While working on the Obi-Wan set, my company employed more than 600 people, including the vendors who source the ingredients for the meals we prepare, the beverage distributors from whom we buy our soft drinks, and the ice companies that we use—everyone wins when a production arrives in California.

That’s not all: even the local automakers we buy our trucks from and the local body shops we go to for repairs reap the rewards.

These numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of small businesses, from local restaurants and hotels to mom-and-pop stores, that depend on the business generated by having film productions in the area.

Orlando’s Motion Picture Catering serves film and television productions across the country, which led me to spend months working on productions in New Mexico and Georgia.

When I work on set in another state, it’s not only at the cost of sacrificing time I could spend with my wife and three kids, but every local California business we partner with loses work. The loss of production in California is, in the end, a loss for the entire local economy.

Fortunately, Governor Newsom and the state legislature improved the film tax credit in 2021, ending the migration of film productions from California to other competitive states.

The push for the Film and Television Tax Credit Program has already had a positive impact on California’s entertainment industry and the broader economy, generating $992 million in wages for low-level workers and vendors in the state, like me and my employees.

The expansion of the program helps ensure that we not only recover from the pandemic, but come back better than ever.

I appreciate lawmakers’ continued support for incentives that keep productions in California and create opportunities for thousands of small businesses. Because of these incentives, another generation of small businesses calls California home.

Orlando Hurtado is the owner of Orlando’s Motion Picture Catering.

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